Mote Marine Laboratory’s new coral research facility in the Florida Keys has entered its last step of construction — and remains on schedule to open by spring 2017 — Mote leaders announced today, Dec. 12.
This month, contractors are lifting and assembling vehicle-sized pieces of precast concrete to complete the final sections of structural frame for Mote’s new International Center for Coral Reef Research and Restoration, located its Summerland Key campus. In the New Year, the interior will receive drywall and laboratory fixtures.
Mote’s remaining old lab building on Summerland Key was demolished recently. Mote scientists are working from temporary trailers on-site, and they eagerly anticipate the new International Center that will enhance their efforts to study and restore the ocean’s “rainforests,” coral reefs.
Photos of construction progress are posted continually at: www.mote.org/motebuilding
Fun fact: Each concrete slab being added to the building’s exterior weighs more than a Florida manatee, a marine mammal that can weigh more than 1,000 pounds and is a focus of Mote research.
“We’re here today at a very exciting and momentous time in the history of Mote Marine Laboratory,” said Mote President & CEO Dr. Michael P. Crosby. “We are getting ready to place the last few concrete slabs of this new state-of-the-art building, which will advance Mote’s coral reef research. This will become an International Center for Coral Reef Research and Restoration. From this Center, we will be able to not only restore coral reefs here in the Florida Keys, but train and partner with other scientists and non-profit community-based organizations to do the same all around the world.”
“When Mote asked me to join the Mote Keys Advisory Council around 16 years ago I felt there was something unique about this organization and I loved how they were interested in solving the problems our oceans face today," said Peter Rosasco, Chairman of the Keys Advisory Council. “For the last 60 years of my life in the Florida Keys, I’ve seen our coral reef system deteriorate, which is sad for so many reasons. It is the foundation of our economy and our ecology. The construction of this building shows just how seriously Mote takes their vision and their work to regrow our coral reefs, and I am really proud of Mote and its incredible staff.”
“I want to thank Mote for asking us to be their design build partner for this building,” said John LaCivita, Vice President at Willis A. Smith Construction, Inc., the Sarasota-based company handling the demolition and construction. “We’ve been involved with Mote for some time and are happy to continue this relationship and help them achieve their world-class research goals. This building is no doubt going to do that and I’m pleased say the progress of the construction has been smooth and we are gearing up for an early 2017 open.”
Mote’s new, 19,000-square-foot International Center for Coral Reef Research and Restoration will more than double the research and education space at Mote’s Summerland Key property, supporting more Mote scientists and visiting researchers from around the world. The site’s old lab facilities have supported the work of approximately 150 non-resident scientists from over 60 different U.S. and international institutions, while playing a key role in studies worldwide.
The new facility will allow Mote to expand its programs focused on studying and restoring damaged coral reefs and on finding new ways to address global threats to reefs — particularly increasing ocean water temperature and ocean acidification. This will help ensure the revival of a thriving Florida Keys coral reef tract that is the basis of more than 70,000 jobs and more than $6 billion annual economic impact in Florida.
“It has been incredible seeing the growth of Mote over the past 15 years I’ve been with Mote,” said Mote Senior Scientist Dr. David Vaughan, Executive Director of Mote’s Summerland Key campus. “Today, we are still continuing to grow with this new, incredible building that will allow us to expand our coral restoration efforts and collaborate with other scientists around the world, as well as house and teach thousands of kids in summer camps to increase the next generation’s interest in our oceans.”
The facility has been designed with the goal of achieving LEED Gold certification. If this is accomplished it will be the first LEED Gold-certified facility in Monroe County, according to the contractor. LEED means is Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design.
This construction is supported entirely by philanthropy, especially thanks to generous supporters in Mote's comprehensive campaign Oceans of Opportunity. The new building is the sole bricks-and-mortar project in this Lab-wide campaign, which exceeded its overall goal of raising $50 million in donor commitments this fall. The campaign is already increasing the positive impacts of Mote's research, conservation and education locally to internationally.